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Mike Ball – Spoilsport – Coral Sea Review

Created by clint under on Thursday 9th of February 2017

I completed this Coral Sea dive expedition with Mike Ball a few years ago. It’s only now I finally have the time to give it a review! I have tried to make it short, sweet and descriptive. I focused on what I believe is the main highlight of the entire trip the Shark Dive at North Horn. Welcome to my Mike Ball – Spoilsport – Coral Sea Review!

Literally, this is one of the best dive expeditions I have been on. I would regard diving in the Coral Sea at Osprey reef as one of the top 3 locations for scuba diving that I have experienced. A little background on where I have been diving so you can see what I’m comparing it too. I have dived in Sipadan, Borneo Malaysia, TUFI Resort in Papua New Guinea and at many locations on the Great Barrier Reef including the SS Yongala Shipwreck located 30 minutes from Ayr. (About a 5-hour drive south from Cairns), the HMAS Brisbane from Mooloolaba, The Rainbow Warrior and HMAS Canterbury Shipwrecks in Pahia the Bay of Islands and Poor Knights Island from TutuKaka, New Zealand.

I have dived in the coral sea with both Spirit of Freedom and Mike Ball, both liveaboards operate out of Cairns. Both are outstanding dive operations with excellent crew, service and fantastic meals. I would say that Mike Balls boat a twin hull vessel is more stable in the water than Spirit Of Freedom. In saying this the diving from both vessels is just beautiful.

We departed Cairns on Thursday (All coral sea dive expeditions with either Mike Ball or Spirit Of Freedom depart on Thursdays and return to Cairns on Mondays.) after meeting at 4 pm at Mondos restaurant in front of the Hilton Hotel Cairns for an early dinner and nibbles this also gave us the chance to meet Mike himself. Mike is a seasoned veteran in the Australian dive industry, he is also the owner of Mike Ball dive expeditions, hence the name. Mike talks about the trip ahead, what you can expect on the shark dive and other diving opportunities at Osprey Reef.

For me, the definite highlight of diving in the coral sea at Osprey Reef is the shark feed at the North Horn dive site. Osprey reef is a large seamount / dormant volcano sitting at around 1000 meters deep. The anticipation of knowing in the next day or two you will be down at around 16 to 18 meters sitting in a large rocky underwater amphitheater about to witness the famous shark feed, is exciting!

On the morning of the shark feed, there is an air of excitement. The crew is working hard to get everything ready for the main event. Everybody on board is a little nervous/excited, we all know what we are going to do on the next dive. The crew gives a fantastic dive briefing outlining all the things to do and what not to do. They explain the transition from the boat into the dingy, backward roll off the dingy and slowly descend down to the amphitheater.

Here at the North Horn dive site, you descend to around 16 to 18 meters. Find a spot on the rocky wall and let all the air out of your BCD (the crew explains all of this in the dive briefing before the dive). This is to keep you negatively buoyant and makes it much easier to sit in the one spot and not float around. It takes a good 15 minutes or so by the time everybody is down at depth and in position. During this time the crew is busy preparing the drum full of bait and locking it down in the center of the amphitheater.

At this stage, there are easily 30 to 40 sharks all circulating out in the deep water getting closer and closer to the dive site. They know what is about to happen next, they also smell the bait in the drum line. Some flick their tail hard and accelerate to high speeds darting in and around the divers. It’s clear even the sharks are excited!

The crew look around and make sure everybody is in position, then it’s on! The lead diver (Mike Ball Crew) pulls the chain and the lid opens on the bait drum, floating out are 4 large tuna heads tied to a floating line. This holds the bait in position so the sharks don’t take the bait away. It keeps the feed in the amphitheater for all of us to witness. Hustling and bustling his way amongst the sharks are large potato cod. These guys are not scared of the sharks and even barge them out the way to get a piece of the tuna.

Sharks are swimming everywhere, in between the divers in between us and the bait drum, White Tip Reef Sharks, Black Tip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Giant Potato Cod, hundreds of smaller fish like, Black and White Pilot Fish (The little fish that hang around big sharks), Remoras (The long skinny black and white fish that suck onto sharks), Big Eye Trevally and then comes the larger Silvertip Reef Sharks.


If you are into your underwater photography or videography, the shark feed at North Horn is the ultimate place to catch that photo moment of large sharks up close to your camera lens. Use a wide angle fish eye lens and dome port, adjust your strobes to keep backscatter to a minimum and shoot away. Mike Ball also offer a shark shooter underwater photography dive. This can be bought and organized while out on the boat.

Cairns Dive Adventures are independently owned and operated. If you have a question or are interested in joining a Coral Sea shark dive expedition send us an email for more information and availability –

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Mike Ball – Spoilsport: Coral Sea Dive Expedition

The Coral Sea is a shark lovers paradise! Advanced divers will enjoy 1,000m wall drop offs and amazing visibility on this 4 day / 4 night trip. Departs Thursday. Up to 14 dives. Incl Cairns - Lizard Island flight.
Sharks on the Coral Sea, near the Great Barrier Reef

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Diving at North Horn dive site, Osprey Reef the Coral Sea.

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